Powell does a dovish hike - United States dollars plunges

The Fed's drive to stimulate the world's largest economy in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession is drawing to a close.

Indeed, the Fed's policy statement noted that "the economic outlook has strengthened in recent months ... labor market conditions will remain strong" and annual inflation "is expected to move up in coming months and to stabilize around the Committee's 2% objective over the medium term". If it raises rates too quickly now, he said, the Fed could stifle growth. They did upgrade the forecasts for 2019 and 2020 but the long-term rate saw only a minor move from 2.8% to 2.9%. They also predicted slightly lower unemployment by the end of this year.

The big change since then has been the arrival of a government tax cut plan to the tune of $1.5 trillion, plus a congressional deal to lift caps on federal discretionary spending for the next couple of years. The Fed also outstandingly augments its prediction for USA growth the two successive years. The median projection for 2018 was raised to 2.7 percent and increased to 2.4 percent for 2019.

At the same time, the analysts expect stronger growth in the U.S. economy and more tight labor markets. The average credit-card rate is already a full percentage point higher than it was a year ago and is likely to jump more this year as the Fed increases rates further. He said the rate increase is "another step toward a more neutral monetary policy stance".

As expected, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced its first interest rate increase of 2018 at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting.

"However, Powell dismissed such concerns, stating that: "This is a new risk (that) had been probably a low-profile risk, but which has become ... a more prominent risk to the outlook", Powell said, adding, however, that the trade tensions had not affected the Fed's expectations for the economy". The estimates for inflation excluding food and energy, which officials see as a better way to gauge underlying price trends, rose to 2.1% in 2019 and 2020 from 2% seen in December.

Fed policymakers now project USA economic growth of 2.7% in 2018, up from the 2.5% forecast in December, and have also marked up growth for next year.

A median forecast above the Fed's 2-percent target is a "dovish development", Roberto Perli, a partner at Cornerstone Macro Llc.in Washington, wrote in a research note.

The decision to increase the funds rate came unanimously even though some members have questioned why the Fed is moving absent more inflationary pressures.

In his first news conference as Fed chief, Powell pointed to factors that have boosted the economic outlook in the past few months, including a "more stimulative" fiscal policy, in the wake of the massive tax cuts the US Congress passed in December a year ago.

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